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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
H i all,

Well here's goes the start of mu guide. I have read a number of guides, some of which are linked at the bottom this post. There were some really good guides on the forum before the crash. These guides broke down the products to look for and where to get them.

Step 1 - supplies

Styrofoam sheets and miscellaneous pieces. Make sure to get enough for what ever tank size you and putting the background into.
Concrete (not sure on what type at this point)
steak Knife or other carving tools
box cutter
cheap paint brush(s)
aquarium safe silicone (I used GE I 100% silicon)
hot air gun (torch or lighter could be used instead)
Tape measure
marker (which I did not use but would still recommend)
Sand Paper (optional, I did not use)
gloves (optional but recommended)
Concrete colouring (not sure on what to use yet or where to find it. Some people may also just paint afterwords but IMO colouring the concrete itself should be a more natural look)

A concrete sealant/resin (not sure on what or where to find it)

I would prefer to seal the concrete and would really like some recommend some suggestions of the subject. Many guides do not use it but the ones that due say it is a must. There is a quote below from a guide that insists on sealing for reference.

"The next step is to put a layer of epoxy resin over the background. This ensures that no toxic fluids will get in the water and the fish won't destroy your background. Some fish will scrape the cement of the styrofoam and your background will be destroyed. Another good reason to use epoxy is that because of the cement your PH will rise and the epoxy creates a barrier between the cement and the water."
Do-It-Yourself Aquarium background


Step 2


measure and cut your Styrofoam to to fit your tank. Plan and cut location for your equipment (heater, filter etc). You can do this at a later step but make sure you keep it in mind though out as it will be a lot more difficult to add cut out locations for equipment once you start to concrete.

Step 3 - silicon together your styofoam pieces where needed.

Some people will will pre-carve the pieces and glue them on like rock shaped tiles. I elected not to do this as my syrofoam was 3 inches thick to begin with. Here's some pics




Guide continued at my next post...

other guide for reference:
my diy background - MonsterFishKeepers.com
http://www.cichlid-forum.com/article...background.php
Metacafe - Online Video Entertainment - Free video clips for your enjoyment
http://www.cichlid-forum.com/article...background.php
http://www.aquariumuniverse.com/aqua...d-aquarium.php
DIY Aquarium Background
Ma...ground 202438 « Wonder How To
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Step 4 - carving

This step is messy. I was told I had to do it outside but did not listen ;)

Using your various tools carve out your Styrofoam into rock formations. Keep in mind locations locations for your equipment as mentioned above. I recommend using your marker to draw out a plan on the Styrofoam. I did not draw out a thing and although I pretty much winged it I had an idea of what I wanted to accomplish. There were a few things I did not like along the way (which you will notice in the pics) and decided to change but over all I am fairly happy.

You will also need to section you background into a number a piece to fit it into the tank. I planned on 3 pieces but ended up dividing it into 4 pieces.

Here's some pics of the process










more pics in next post
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Step 5 - "detailing" with hot air gun

use the hot air gun to lightly melt the Styrofoam. This is not 100% necessary but it will solidify the foam and give a look that is a little more rock like. Be careful not to over melt.

Make sure you do this is in a well vented area as it will produce toxic fumes...





Step 6 - concreting

Started with a watery coat let it sit till the next evening and then did another watery coat. It seems that the Styrofoam twists in some area when moved and chips off some of concrete. Have done a thick layer and plan on doing at leased 1 more before adding any colour. Hopefully this will make it sturdy

Here's some pictures of the process so far




 

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nice sculpting. I think you asked a question about colouring. I used a product based on iron oxide from the store near Brentwood Mall in Burnaby. The actual concrete as a potable water safe product (the same one used on that cichlid forum by a guy called Mehmet (sp). That prouct is called Sika Top seal 107 and the colour tints inert. I didn't seal mine, I just cured it under water after it set added some salt and then refilled about five times over the course of two weeks. The product is not supposed to alter water chemistry too much, but it did raise the Ph initially. It stablized after about a week. Sealing it might be a good idea. I think people use marine epoxy. See what the guy who did the stump used (earlier thread).

Ohh yeah...mine has had fish thriving for about two years now.

Cheers

Hammer
 

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Looking really good so far. I have been thinking of doing something like this as well. definitely subscribing to this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
nice sculpting. I think you asked a question about colouring. I used a product based on iron oxide from the store near Brentwood Mall in Burnaby. The actual concrete as a potable water safe product (the same one used on that cichlid forum by a guy called Mehmet (sp). That prouct is called Sika Top seal 107 and the colour tints inert. I didn't seal mine, I just cured it under water after it set added some salt and then refilled about five times over the course of two weeks. The product is not supposed to alter water chemistry too much, but it did raise the Ph initially. It stablized after about a week. Sealing it might be a good idea. I think people use marine epoxy. See what the guy who did the stump used (earlier thread).

Ohh yeah...mine has had fish thriving for about two years now.

Cheers

Hammer
Thank you everyone for the kind comments and a huge thanks to Hammer for the helpful info.

Sika top seal 107 is exactly what I was thinking of but couldn't remember the name of... thanks you very much, now I just have to track some down. edit... I just checked my bookmarks and had a list of bc distributors of sika products :) http://www.sika.ca/con-dist-province-britishcolumbia.htm

As for the colouring, yes I agree iron oxide seems like the way to go. I just need to find a place that sells it in a quantity less than 5 lbs. I'll definitely be looking into the place at Brentwood if I cannot find some here in Surrey.

I probably won't seal it as long as I can find some sika 107 but we will see. I'm not 100% sure what a "marine epoxy" is but the guides I have seen seem to mentions an epoxy resin. The only thing titled epoxy resin that I have been able to find was in the glue section at home depot/Rona and at about $8 for small a 2 part tube it would probably cost a fortune to seal this background as it's going into a 125g. The only thing I have been able to find that may work and is affordable is a fiberglass resign but I have no clue if it is safe or even clear...As for the stump in the earlier thread... I could be wrong but I think that was from the pre-crash BCA. If I'm wrong and someone has the url please let me know.

Another thing that runs through my head is I would like to find something to seal up the back of the styro that won't scratch the glass (concrete probably will but sika 107 may not). I figure the Styrofoam is probably too weak as the bouncy of the styro might tear it apart if I silicon it directly to the glass. I wonder if the bond on the sika 107 would be enough to make it work and if it would scratch the glass...
Regardless I hope to get out and find the final supplies this week and hopefully start the final coats(s) this weekend. It'll probably take a little longer but I have my fingers crossed

Shopping list

Iron oxide
Sika top seal 107
Sealent (maybe)
 

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Try calling stores that sell boats, or do boat repairs. They should have a marine epoxy that could work.
 

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I just wrote a long reply but something funny happend to my computer and I lost it. Here's the short. The Sika Topseal is from National Concrete in North Burnaby. the colour pigments are from from place in Burnaby on Alpha street. If you are nearby, I'd be happy to pass on my leftover pigments for a fraction of the cost and it would be more than enough for you. Then you could save money and buy additional colours. Also blending colours and varying concentrations give you a whole other level of colour complexity...which I think is natural. I have only done one... but I like it, but I am not an expert. Also, looking at pro background gave me ideas.
PM me of you want those pigments..I give them to you for 5 bucks for each used bag. I think I paid about 20-30 each. The left overs should be plenty.


Cheers

Hammer
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
well I also have done a 75g back ground as well. Here's some picks below. It is almost ready to go into the tank. I will probably e giving it a rinse with the hose tomorrow and double checking to make sure I am happy with it. Then once it is dry it will come inside and I will silicone it into the tank. Pics are below

I have had a few issue with the background for the 125g and am not 100% sure I am happy with it. Once the 75g is set up I will take a closer look at it and make a call whether to complete it or not. If I do decide to finish it I'll have picks up with in a day or two as it is almost done too.






 
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